Friday, June 15, 2012

Let Your Real Strengths Shine Through

Finding Your Strengths

Marcus Buckingham wrote several excellent books on Finding and Living your strengths. The reason that his books are breakthrough though, is not just because they help you find yourself. (Were you lost?)

His books are breakthrough because of the main premise on which he builds his whole process.

A strength is not necessarily what you are good at but rather a strength is something that makes you feel strong.

When you first read it you may well be underwhelmed given the huge workup I gave it in the opening paragraph.  But go back and read it again.

The first time I read it, I did read it again because it seemed so much a non event.  But when you assimilate the meaning of a strength being what makes you feel strong versus what you are good at it makes you stop in your tracks.

Knowing this Can Change Your Life!

Or knowing this can let you change your life in a direction that honours who you are. 

When I think about my strengths, I think I am good at selling; I am pretty good at communicating with others; I am knowledgeable about nutrition and fitness; and I am good at supporting people when they experience a crisis.  There are probably more but I am really sounding less than modest at this point. 

Some of these are strengths in the typical sense of the word and some of them are things that make me feel good.

They are how I define myself.  Good at this; not so good at that. Like a frightening job interview. We form a fixed picture of what we are good at by the time we reach middle age.  As a child certain qualities get reinforced and others go unrecognized. Unfortunately related to people who probably had our best interests in mind.

In our childish search for approval some of our unrecognized strengths, as in the ones that make us feel good, get buried away even from our own view. Then at midlife those true strengths, the ones that make you feel strong, resurface and demand our attention.

The constant mellifluous murmur of our souls.

I am in Sales and I have been for my entire career in one way or another. I have been quite good at it, so I assumed it might be a strength.  But it is not something that made me feel good. And I do it everyday. So then, is it a strength? 

I remember when I took my first job in a restaurant, a friend said to my mother, "Great that will help her break out of her shyness". Not sure why that one stuck with me. This was the beginning of denying the self that was not acceptable to share with the world.  Was I shy or introverted? And BTW introverted is not a weakness.

I spent my lifetime learning how to work a room and now I am quite excellent at it.  But it is not a strength because it never feels good. 

Defining Your Strengths

So how do we define what our true strengths are? It is a tough one because we get all tangled up in the things that we do well but that do not make us feel good.

Look for the things that when you think of them they make you smile.

When you think of doing them you feel your body relax and breathe. 

That feeling of being free and untethered. You will feel your power when you think of a strength in the new definition of the word.

It just feels good.

And Peaceful.

And powerful in a nondestructive sense of the word.

And Easy.

Like a jazz saxaphone solo on high volume.

Nobody can really tell you what they are because true strengths make you feel strong when you are doing them but they are not identifiable from the outside.

I feel strong when I write, when I run, when I support someone in crisis. And I feel strong when I am alone. (Not all the time though)

Try a few on and listen to your heartsong. Thing about what you do for a living and ask if it makes you feel strong. (Or maybe we shouldn't look at this one too closely!)

And easy.

And power full.

And peaceful.

And add them to your life because feeling strong is what it's all about.

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